Praxis: Activity as opposed to theory.
by Robert Fulgham
The older I get, the less attention I pay to what people say or think or hope. I notice what they do, how they live, and what they work for.
There is an unresolved argument in the arts and in politics over whether one's words are to be judged with regard to one's life. I come down on the side of integrity: The life validates or invalidates the words.
Oratory is empty if it has not been field-tested on the battlefield of experience. And I have little use for those who write beautifully and live sordidly; or those who withdraw from the world and issue instructions for how to live in it; or priesthoods that deny the realities of the flesh but wish to control the appetites and activities of those who live as whole human beings. If you don't play the game, you can't know enough to make the rules. If you are not engaged in the sweaty work of the world, you should not be in charge of the deodorant concession. And if you cannot find a way to aid progress in human affairs, then know that the smirking cynicism of the sideline critic is a form of plague - and to be one of those is to be a carrier of death instead of a preserver of life.
Strong words? Yes, and deeply felt.
The closest I ever come to angry violence is in the presence of someone who says he will not even bother to vote because it doesn't make any difference. I saw a bumper sticker on the back of an old Buick: "If voting really changed anything, it would be illegal." I felt like giving the driver a bumper bang from behind.
He's typical of those who have a shallow view of history - those who don't understand that nobody has a right to ride on the bus without making some contribution to the cost of the journey. They don't respect the fact that somebody else paid the price to build the vehicle of civilization in the first place. They owe. We owe. It's a moral obligation to participate in the work of society. If you take from the pot, you must put into the pot. Even those who have no money can sing and keep the driver of the bus awake and hopeful.
It has been said that the hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. And I say the moral crisis of the times is continuous. Knowing and understanding and being are not enough. One must do. To gain the world and give nothing to it is to lose your soul.
In the words of Norman Cousins: "The tragedy of life is not death, but what we let die inside us while we live."
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